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Bostonians Seek Normalcy After Harrowing Week


Well, last week was a harrowing one for people in Boston and surrounding communities, and on this Monday morning people there are returning to work and school. By Thursday night last week, police were involved in an open air firefight in the Boston suburb of Watertown. By Friday that entire city was in lockdown.

On this Monday morning we're joined by Curt Nickisch from member station WBUR. He's on the line to talk about the morning commute. And Curt, where are you and what are you seeing?

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: Well, I'm actually at Dunkin' Donuts that's here at the Back Bay commuter rail station. It's right next to Copley Square where everybody's working. In fact, this place was open on Friday to serve all the people who are working down there, the investigators who are still looking at that crime scene. And that area is still closed off. It's - you know, they still need to do some investigating.

They have to decontaminate the area. And it's tough because all these commuters are streaming in to go back to work today. And there's this heart at the heart of Boston that's such a lovely part of the city. Tourists will remember this area as the place where the Duck Boat tours start.


NICKISCH: It's where the Boston Public Library is. It's normally just a bustling place but there's just this heart of the city that's till blocked off. And, you know, at either end there are makeshift memorials where people have been leaving flowers and notes, and in some cases they've left running shoes. People are going to be - city officials are going to be moving those to try to reopen that area in the next few days.

GREENE: Wow. It sounds like the memories from last week still so vivid and on people's minds, even as they try to take it going and find some sort of normalcy this morning. Having lived in Boston, I mean, Dunkin' Donuts, they're everywhere. No one comes to work without a cup of Dunkin' coffee. That's a good measure that things are getting back to normal in some sense.

NICKISCH: Yeah. Absolutely. I think people are really eager to get back to work and get back to their normal lives because last week was so dramatic. And it was a short week, too. Monday, the day of the marathon, was a holiday here, Patriot's Day. Friday, of course, everybody was on lockdown, staying inside. And that week was a school vacation week so a lot of people feel like they just didn't get anything done.

I talked to a commuter coming in this morning and he says it just felt like a perverted vacation that wasn't relaxing and one that he didn't choose. So there's a lot of relief to get rolling again. Unfortunately, the people who live and work in that area down there can't do that yet.

GREENE: Yeah. Not the kind of vacation that people are looking for. Well, you're talking about that area. It's Copley Square. For people who don't know Boston it's right in downtown and a lot of restaurants and businesses. I mean, they've been shut for a week. Is there any timeline for when they might be able to reopen?

NICKISCH: They're hoping to be able to reopen by midweek. I mean, you're right. It's a beautiful sort of upscale street with great seafood restaurants and hotels. It's full of shopping and, you know, really nice apartments. And it's been a burden because they haven't been able to do business. At the same time they've been really understanding, because, you know, their storefronts were a crime scene and some of their customers got hurt.

And so they're bearing with it. The city inspectors still want to check the buildings out and make sure that, you know, no windows got knocked loose that might still fall down and just make sure things are safe. And there are a lot of people in Boston who say they're going to make a point of going out to these places to go shopping, to go out to eat, to help those businesses.

Whether they bring their overdue library books back, that's another question.

GREENE: That's a big question. And I know we have a moment of silence at 2:50 this afternoon, for people to observe that time when the bombs went off last Monday. Curt, thanks so much for talking to us and giving us the scene in Boston this morning.

NICKISCH: Sure thing.

GREENE: That's Curt Nickisch from member station WBUR talking to us about the morning commute in Boston which is recovering from quite a tragic week last week. And you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Curt Nickisch